Latched Out

The problem with anything mechanical, it will become worn and eventually fail. Take the cargo and equipment bay door latches. Even though they are sealed on the outside, dirt and debris will find its way inside the door panel and eventually cause wear and tear causing reduced reliability and even complete failure.

These latches are made from dissimilar materials (metal & plastic), so the parts wear at different rates. Too bad they do not use the same material throughout such as steel or brass like that of what residential lock sets were made of.

We have been fortunate in that we have had only one minor latch issue in the last 8 years. One of the latches was not latching, even though the handle was locked. Turned out that the steel loop the bolt nestled into to secure the door must have been bumped and was slightly out of alignment to retain the latching bolt. A thump with a hammer adjusted that back into proper alignment and working order.

Not too long ago another latch problem arrived on a day most inconvenient…on the day I had todump and refill at the park’s water and dump station. All was fine until I went to open the wet bay door where the water fill portal was located. The handle moved, but it did not release the latching bolt to allow the door to swing upwards.  At first, I thought it was the locking mechanism…but it worked properly.

Needing to refill the freshwater tank, forced me to figure out how to get this bay door open and fast. The doors on either side could be opened which allowed me the ability to look down between the door and the frame to see the bolt and the loop it protrudes through to latch shut.

I ended up using a long skinny pry bar to manually move the latching bolt to clear the loop so the door could swing open. Had I not had access to this door from either side, I would have had to either bend some sheet metal on the bottom of the door or try and find a way to access the back of the latch from the inside to remove the four screws holding it into the door. Not an easy task I assure you.

With the door open I was able to remove the latch to inspect its workings. Here is a short video of what I discovered.

In the pictures you can see the latch actuator in the normal position and what happened after flipping the lever to move it. The actuator rides up over the end of the bolt thus not moving it to release its hold on the latch loop.


I slid a screwdriver in behind the actuator arm and gave the tang that moves the bolt a couple of smacks with a small hammer to bend it towards the bolt, so it remains engaged with the bolt to pull it up to release the bolt from the latch loop.

If this had not have worked, I would have used a latch from another lesser used equipment access until I sourced a new replacement latch. But it worked, however I will eventually order all new latches for the entire coach to prevent this from happening again at most critical time when the door needs to be opened.

The fix has held…so far. If you find that you can not open a bay or equipment door…it could be that the latch has succumb to time and wear. By the way, these Trimark latches are readily available online.

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Gerald Voigt

Gerald's interests are wide and varied. His work career started in the United States Air Force and since then has worked in logistics management, retail & service management as well as manufacturing. He's an author, photographer, pilot, radio show host and marketing consultant who enjoys RVing which allows him greater freedom to explore, meet new acquaintances and serve his clients.